“Smells like Liam’s,” I thought. A good friend and natural bartender. That smell: booze, upholstery and Burberry. This was my second time visiting Miller's Back Door and I intended on staying sober enough to remember the details.

In the far corner a group of men lounged on leather couches and sipped martinis. They had an air of business to them, but Bellingham business: no suit, maybe a tie.

A reddish pink glow filled the room of entertaining posters, signs and artwork.

“Tunnel of love,” one sign read. “Restroom, that is all,”  said the bathroom door. Next to the bar is a squishy red, light up booty.

I gave it a tap.

We sat ourselves to the sound of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's newest album, “Sex & Food."

Seated at the bar, an older woman with white hair and colorful clothes played her role perfectly of the loquacious patron, telling story after story to the bartender, Dakota.

In a dress shirt, fitted vest and tie, he looked like a bartender from the age of prohibition. He eventually managed to pull away and gave us a friendly greeting.

I scrambled to recall which off-menu drink he had suggested to me weeks back. Lucky for me, Dakota remembered immediately.


Since this is off-menu it doesn’t come with a fun description, but Dakota would probably give you one on the spot.

Our take:

The smokey with orange marmalade almost leaves you with the feeling of a throat lozenge. This is probably due to the Campari used in Negronis. It can be a bit off-putting at first if you are not familiar, but I highly recommend giving it a taste.


Their menu:

Heritage’s lemon vodka, Kuma turmeric liqueur, lemon juice, orange-blossom water S. Pellegrino. Light tart, herbal, relatively dry and floral. Served on the rocks in a Collin’s glass; garnished with an orange rind and a spritz of orange-blossom water.

Our take:

Reminiscent of an otter pop, and definitely in a good way.


Their menu:

A tribute to a dear friend and inspired by a traditional rum sour. Egg white, blackberry-balsamic compote for complex texture and flavor, rum and sour served up.

Our take:

The blackberry-balsamic compote is what sets this drink apart from other "traditional" rum sour recipes. It succeeds in creating a much more complex flavor, bordering on fruity.

With this type of drink, I could only handle one.

Lea Hogdal

Pictured: The Professor, a fresh tattoo and a vodka martini to go with it -- yes, it was up to her standards.


Their menu:

Smooth, subtle, spirit-forward and mildly sweet with a long brown sugar finish. St. Remy XO brandy, smoke bitters, Vya vermouth aperitif and a splash of brown sugar bourbon. Served over ice with a Bordeaux cherry garnish.

Our take:

A smokey almost chocolaty aroma rises from the glass. The brandy trickles warmth through your body and finishes with a hint of sweet brown sugar. It's an entire evening curled up in front of a fire in a single glass.


Their menu:

Keeping a classic alive with a modern update. Banknote's 5 year scotch blend. Drambuie, and wormwood bitters served on the rocks.

Our take:

The Rusty Wood is the Back Door's variation on a classic Rusty Nail. The Rusty Nail is a simple cocktail usually consisting of equal parts scotch and Drambuie, a liqueur derived from scotch with the addition of honey and a collection of herbs and spices.

By adding wormwood bitters, the Rusty Wood suppresses the sweeter notes of the Drambuie, highlighting the earthier qualities of the scotch.

Pictured below is the Orange Blossom Aperitif (middle), Devil's Playground (left) and barrel-aged Negroni (right).

Lea Hogdal

Soon enough, knotted maraschino cherry stems lined our napkins and ice rattled from the bottom of our drinks. 

We decided it was time to leave Miller's Back Door and peek into Rumors Cabaret, just next door.